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Made In America by Bill Bryson

Made In America (original 1994; edition 1998)

by Bill Bryson

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Title:Made In America
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:Black Swan (1998), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 624 pages
Collections:Your library

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Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States by Bill Bryson (1994)


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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
A very interesting compendium of classic Americana. Highly recommended and certainly not to be missed.
  danoomistmatiste | Jan 24, 2016 |
A very interesting compendium of classic Americana. Highly recommended and certainly not to be missed.
  kkhambadkone | Jan 17, 2016 |
In Made in America Bill Bryson traces the origin of a variety of Americanisms. The chapters are structured in chronological fashion starting with the Mayflower and the beginning of what was to become the United States of America. On its way to present day America, the book touches upon topics such as money and finances, Native Americans and immigration, the concept of the frontier, shopping, food, movies, advertising, the automobile industry, the space race, sex and political correctness.

While the book is overall quite logically structured, a chapter in itself often appears to be a collection of observations that are ordered in anecdotal fashion more than anything else. Bryson seems to have struggled in filtering the information he wanted to use for his book and this makes the reading of some chapters a bit tedious. While there is generally a wide range of information, depth is neglected at some points. This is not to say that Bryson did a bad job in writing the book, but for me, the lack of depth at certain points definitely took away from an otherwise very interesting reading experience.

For someone interested in languages and their development, this book is not a bad choice. As I love the study of languages and as I am very interested in American English Made in America promised to be a great read for me. I have read Bryson before and while I do not agree with him on everything and while I do not always like his humor, I like his books generally very much. However, Made in America was, despite my interest in the topic, just an average read. While some chapters were highly interesting and very well written, others lacked in quality. On the whole, a three star read. ( )
  OscarWilde87 | Dec 5, 2015 |
This ended up being much more of a straightforward history book than I expected. It rambled pleasantly and expansively through American history, pausing frequently to examine origins of common words and expressions.

I was surprised at how clearly Bryson's political views shone through the text, but since those views - liberal, populist - generally agreed with mine, that was a plus in my eyes. Few things are quite so gratifying as reading a book (or even a bumper sticker) that states your own opinion better than you yourself could have.

Denser than [b:A Short History of Nearly Everything|21|A Short History of Nearly Everything|Bill Bryson|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1255682270s/21.jpg|2305997], not quite as funny as [b:A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail|9791|A Walk in the Woods Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail|Bill Bryson|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1275694125s/9791.jpg|613469]. I enjoyed this book, and learned more than expected to. I probably would have enjoyed it even more if I weren't already pretty well versed in American history, but as it stood, quite a bit of this was review for me. Nonetheless, good stuff! ( )
  benjamin.duffy | Jul 28, 2013 |
I'm up to Benjamin Franklin and frankly Ben, I've had enough of you and this book. I usually like Bryson's writing style, but the fruity self-congratulatory tone of this is irritating. Also, I think if you are an American you might be a great deal more interested in the entire of history of America as experienced by European settlers than I am. No 'might' about it, of course you are, its your country. Me, sorry, but I couldn't care less.

Does that sound almost sacrilegious to you? Ask yourself this, what interest do you have in Caribbean history (somewhat, but not entirely, boring) or worse, much worse, Welsh history, since its not exactly a history of a get-up-and-go people who Did Great Things (they liked to sing a lot and annoy the English essentially).

Now I like history, I do, especially books by people like Liza Picard and Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, but they tend to keep politicians out of it. Nothing bores like reading political squabbles, at least to me.

Also, the Indians, in whom I have a major interest as all I know about them is war, ceremonies and their problems with alcohol and success with gambling, are dismissed by Bryson with just a little about their linguistic contribution to American English.

I'm not saying its not a good book, I've never read a bad Bryson one, but its just plain boring to me and life is too short and books too many to bother finishing it. ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bill Brysonprimary authorall editionscalculated
McCall, BruceIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Roberts, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the 1940s, a British traveller to Anholt, a small island fifty miles out in the Kattegat straight between Denmark and Sweden, noticed that the island children sang a piece of doggerel that was clearly nonsense to them.
As Jefferson put it: "The new circumstances under which we are placed, call for new words, new phrases, and for the transfer of old words to new objects".
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0380713810, Paperback)

Readers from Toad Suck, Arkansas, to Idiotsville, Oregon--and everywhere in between--will love Made in America, Bill Bryson's Informal History of the English Language in the United States. It is, in a word, fascinating. After reading this tour de force, it's clear that a nation's language speaks volumes about its true character: you are what you speak. Bryson traces America's history through the language of the time, then goes on to discuss words culled from everyday activities: immigration, eating, shopping, advertising, going to the movies, and others.

Made in America will supply you with interesting facts and cocktail chatter for a year or more. Did you know, for example, that Teddy Roosevelt's "speak softly and carry a big stick" credo has its roots in a West African proverb? Or that actor Walter Matthau's given name is Walter Mattaschanskayasky? Or that the supposedly frigid Puritans--who called themselves "Saints," by the way--had something called a pre-contract, which was a license for premarital sex? Made in America is an excellent discussion of American English, but what makes the book such a treasure is that it offers much, much more.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:44 -0400)

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Traces America's history through language & culture.

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